You must begin your day exploring the Denver Union Station. This 100-year-old historic landmark serves as a watering hole for locals and visitors alike. It has more than a dozen shops and places to dine, as well as a luxury hotel, and, of course, Amtrak trains and Denver’s transit system.
One of Union Station’s most recognizable diners is Snooze: An A.M. Eatery. The vibrant orange umbrellas on the patio welcome visitors from outside while the scent of fried eggs and fresh coffee wafting throughout the station beckon weary travels as they depart from their trains. Snooze is famous for its uniquely sweet and outrageous pancake flavors, so please, for the love of breakfast, order a plate.
To get the best view of the city and arguably one of the best meals in Denver, head to El Five, located in the LoHi district. El Five’s menu is rich with Mediterranean flavors, and the ambiance is trendy yet palatial with not-so-subtle nods toward modern design with an industrial flair. It’s an architectural and gastronomic experience like none other in Denver.
Start your day with brunch at Julep, an upscale restaurant that honors the history and traditions of Southern hospitality while featuring local foods and produce.* You simply must order the buttermilk biscuits and bottomless coffee featuring beans that were roasted locally at Method Coffee Roasters.
After brunch, take a stroll through town to the Tattered Cover Book Store. Although there are multiple locations of the indie bookstore scattered throughout city limits, I recommend the LoDo location as it offers ample seating and a quaint little café.
For lunch, head to Denver Central Market. With more than 10 different vendors, the gourmet marketplace is a sample of Denver flavors, culture and community. Take the afternoon to rest and recuperate before departing for a dinner you won’t soon forget at Tavernetta. This authentic Italian restaurant features fresh pastas, small plates influenced by the culinary team’s travels throughout Italy and an all-Italian wine list.
*Brunch available at Julep on Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 11 a.m. and on Sundays beginning at 10 a.m.
If you’re an artist, art enthusiast or simply one who appreciates art, you must visit the Denver Art Museum. Admission to the art museum is free if you purchase the Denver CityPass, which also gives you admission to other top Denver attractions including the Denver Zoo, Denver Aquarium and more. A CityPass starts at a base price of $39 for adults and $29 for children ages 3–11, and that gives you admission to three attractions in the area over a seven-day period.
After visiting DAM, explore some of the city’s art districts. The Mile High City houses more than five different art designated districts—that is, areas that contain a combination of galleries, artist studios, specialty art shops, museums and eye-catching street art. A good one to start at if finishing up at DAM is the Golden Triangle Creative District since the museum is located within it. The Triangle has more than 50 different galleries and studios and is even home to the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art and the Molly Brown House Museum.
Also, make sure you have enough time to stroll through the River North Art District, located just north of downtown. RiNo has an exceptional collection of eclectic shops, coffee bars, restaurants and breweries, all residing within old warehouses or buildings that, on their exteriors, showcase some of the city’s most vibrant and unique street art.
You simply cannot go to Denver without visiting Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. Take a walk around the amphitheater, a naturally constructed outdoor venue that is recognized for its deep orange hue and unmatched acoustics, then explore the some of the Park’s trails. Whether you’d like to run, hike or bike, the park has two trails you can use: the Trading Post Trail and the Geologic Overlook Trail.
Relax after your hike with a nice stroll through the Denver Botanic Gardens. The gardens are spread throughout over 23 acres of land, with diverse plant life that celebrates the city’s high-altitude climate and provides a place for those to linger amongst natural textures and landscapes.